Successive authoritarian regimes have maintained tight control over organized labor in Egypt since the 1950s. And yet in 2009, a group of civil servants decided to exit the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), thereby setting a precedent for other groups and threatening the ETUF's monopoly. Dina Bishara examines this relationship between labour organizations and the state to shed light on how political change occurs within an authoritarian government, and to show how ordinary Egyptians perceive the government's rule. In particular, Bishara highlights the agency of dissident unionists in challenging the state even when trade union leaders remain loyal. She reveals that militant sectors are more vulnerable to greater scrutiny and repression and that financial benefits tied to membership in state-backed unions can provide significant disincentives against the exit option. Moving beyond conventional accounts of top-down control, this book explores when and how institutions designed for political control become contested from below.
About the Author
Dina Bishara is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama. She has published in outlets such as Perspectives on Politics and Middle East Law and Governance and has received a number of fellowships, including postdoctoral fellowships from Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
Table of ContentsList of illustrative material; List of abbreviations; Introduction; 1. The prelude to exit: the rupturing of state-labor relations under Mubarak; 2. The weakest link? Civil servants as the pioneers of independent unionism in Egypt; 3. The politics of ignoring: protest dynamics in late Mubarak Egypt; 4. Framing exit: the role of leadership in the formation of the independent Real Estate Tax Authority Union; 5. The politics of recognition and the micro-dynamics of authoritarian rule; 6. The 2011 uprising and beyond: the struggle for a new interest regime in post-Mubarak Egypt; Conclusion: authoritarianism and corporatism in Egypt and beyond; Bibliography; Appendix; Endnotes; Index.